Tanzania: Mafia Island Residents Call for Promotion of Seaweed Business

[Tanzania] Residents of Mafia Island in Coast Region have asked the government to promote seaweed business and help them to find reliable market outside the country.

Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ the residents said the crop’s price had dropped from 700/- per kilogramme a few months ago to 300/- per kilogramme.

Seaweed, which mostly known by its Swahili name as ‘mwani’ is the common name for countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean as well as in rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

In Tanzania, the crop is mostly grown in Zanzibar, Mafia and Tanga. Mr Khatib Bacha, a resident of Chole village in Mafia Island said seaweed farming and fishing were the major economic activities in the area and that both activities have not been earning them enough to sustain their families and pay other bills.

“In the previous years, we used to sell seaweed at 700/- per kilogram, but things have changed nowadays, there is no longer a customer to buy our seaweed,” he said.

He added that the authorities have been hard for those who go for fishing in the sea. According to Mr Bacha, the residents are advised to fish in the deep sea, but nobody was capable of going there due to lack of modern fishing equipment.

“There is no more fish in the sea, we always go and spend night there, but we come back with three or five fish which are not enough,” he added.

Ms Subira Ngongowe said the government must help Mafia farmers by promoting seaweed so that foreign investors could establish factories in the area. “We hear things are good in Zanzibar, but in Mafia things are difficult, we are doing everything we could but there is no market for our produces,” she said. The village chairman, Mr Shehani Hamad asked the government to set strategies and infrastructures that will help to boost Mafia residents’ economies. It was established that the number of traders who always arrived from Zanzibar to buy seaweed has dropped.

Zanzibar exports seaweed to China, Korea, Vietnam, Denmark, Spain, France and the US. It is used as a base for cosmetics, lotions, toothpaste, medicines and food – in China, Japan for instance, it is eaten as a vegetable.

In Mafia, the residents said apart from Zanzibar’s traders, the Island used to receive traders from Indonesia, China, Japan and other Asian countries. “Only few Chinese still come once in a while, so we have tonnes of seaweed in our houses, we keep our fingers crossed hoping someone will come and buy our produces,” said Mr Bacha.

View original article at: Tanzania: Mafia Island Residents Call for Promotion of Seaweed Business

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